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Lions' emphasis on the defensive line

The Sports Xchange

--To understand general manager Martin Mayhew's insistence on re-signing defensive end Cliff Avril, even at the risk of losing Tulloch, you have to understand his philosophy on building defenses.

"We're more front-driven," Mayhew said last month. "We want to bring pressure on every play and have a rotation of seven or eight guys going after the quarterback. We try to win the passing game up front."

The premium he puts on pass rushers stems from his own playing days when he played cornerback and marveled at how easy the likes of Bruce Smith, Cornelius Bennett, Charles Mann and Dexter Manley made his job.

"With the way the game is today, it's hard to get five (quality) corners," he said. "But if you can locate two pass rushers, you can impact the passing game pretty significantly. I like the idea of getting after quarterbacks."

--Running back Mikel Leshoure, in an interview with the team's website this week, said he expects to be at full strength by the time the season starts. He missed his rookie season last year after Achilles tendon surgery.

"My body feels good," he said. "I'm going to turn it up a little bit more a month or so from now, but my body feels good. I'm getting my strength back in my calf muscle and my Achilles. I'm feeling pretty good when I run; I have no soreness or anything like that - no pain. I'm not full-speed sprints or cuts or anything like that, but just jogging in laps and half-gassers across the field and stuff. It's building up slowly and I can definitely see progress. I'm 100-percent sure I'll be ready for (the season)."

He is still unsure whether he'll be fully fit for training camp.

"We're going to take our time and do what we've got to do; there's no rush," he said. "We've got until September - first game, that's the major goal, to be ready by then, and I'm 100-percent sure I'll be ready to go first game. If it's feeling good, I might do some things in OTAs but that's not (the goal)."

He said he thinks for sure he'll be ready to participate in training camp.

--Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh told the Charlotte Observer that the Lions haven't and wouldn't institute a bounty system.

"It's unfortunate to hear these things come out," Suh said. "Me personally, I don't take part in those things and knowing my teammates and knowing my coaches, we wouldn't allow that. I understand it's a tough situation the commissioner has to deal with. As he has in the past, he's going to deal with it with a stiff hand. Hopefully, people can learn from the mistakes and make an example out of it."

Suh said there was a difference between wanting to hunt quarterbacks and wanting to hurt them.

"We always have a band as a team and as a unit, especially as a defensive line, we want to be the first guys to get to the quarterback," he said. "But for me personally and for my teammates, we don't want to put anybody out. I would never want anybody to target me to take me out so why would I do it to somebody else?"

"He was our unquestioned defensive MVP last year. He made a ton of big plays for us; offenses always had to account for him, and the thing you see is he's only getting better. As good as a season as he had last year, his arrow's still pointing up. I know players don't like it, but when the team franchises you, it says that they, basically, need you and don't want to go on without you, so it's an honor for him, and it's just a step towards him getting what he wants, which is a long-term deal and, hopefully, being in Detroit for the rest of his career." -- DE Kyle Vanden Bosch on the team franchise tagging Cliff Avril.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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